NY cotton ends down, India decision on ban awaited

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* Indian ministers to meet on Friday

* USDA supply/demand report due Friday

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) – Cotton futures finished lower Thursday for the third straight session as traders and players waited for a meeting of government ministers in India to resolve the country’s ban on cotton exports which has roiled fiber contracts, analysts said.

The benchmark May contract on ICE Futures U.S. declined 0.56 cent to finish at 89.56 cents per lb, moving from 89.30 to 90.93 cents.

Cotton prices have more than halved since hitting $2.27 a lb on March 7, 2011, as demand shrank and worldwide sowings rose.

India, the world’s No. 2 producer and the biggest exporter after the United States, imposed a ban on cotton exports last Monday. The decision was challenged by India’s farm minister and the ministers meeting will decide on the issue.

“We’re waiting on word from India,” said Mike Stevens, an independent cotton analyst in Louisiana.

Government sources in India said New Delhi may allow some shipments to go ahead as up to 2.5 million bales of cotton have been registered for export.

Traders said there was widespread uncertainty over what government ministers in India decide when they meet on Friday.

Stevens added the market will take a look at the monthly supply/demand report of the U.S. Agriculture Department in case there are any major changes in its crop estimates.

Thursday’s volume of almost 17,000 lots was almost 30 percent below the 30-day norm, Thomson Reuters preliminary data showed.

                          (Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by John Picinich)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/08/markets-cotton-idUSL2E8E8BTA20120308

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